Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Snap out of it!

Who the Sam Hill are you?

            This week I’m going to do something revolutionary. I have every confidence it will alter life as we know it. It may even whiten teeth.

            So, grab a pen so you can circle what I’m about to say. – Ready? Here it is. Whenever I catch myself moping around, I’m going to “snap out of it! Might have to do that two or 20 times a day.

            Is that not revolutionary? – What? No, the whiten teeth part was just stuck in there for humor. Get it? Well then, snap out of it! – Oops. You should never tell anyone else to snap out of it. They likely don’t want to snap out of it, or they think they’re not behaving in any manner that merits snapping out. Bottom line, they’re going to kick you to death.

            The only person that I should tell to snap out of it is me. Not “I”. I’m tired of using “I” when “me” sounds better. And, I’m tired of worrying so much about not ending a sentence with a preposition. Who came up with that rule? – “Okay, let’s say that from now on you can’t end a sentence with “with” or “of” or “to” or “from” or a bunch of other words we’ll come up with later. We’ll call them “prepositions” which means words that sentences can't end in.  – Okay, “in” is another word of which sentences can’t end.

            One thing that sparked my new "Snap out of it!" philosophy was telephone conversations I had with three of my siblings last night. After listening to two hours of conversations laced with anger, sadness and dread, I handed over whatever joy I had accumulated to that point. That’s not happening anymore.

            When someone tells me they’re upset about something, I’ve always taken it as a cry for help. The person expects me to solve their dilemma. I’ve been such a fool. Any person who knows me, knows that I’m a bigger mess than they are. I’m the last person to trust with a cure for any emotional ill.

            But, starting this week, I’m not going try to solve the problems of others. I’m just going to listen. Maybe occasionally go, “Hmmm.” If I do that, people are sure to like me better. – Which, incidentally brings up another reason that I must snap out of it.

            I worry way too much about what others think of me. Truth is, people aren’t thinking of me… or you.  At least that’s the way I am when someone’s talking to me. I'm too busy thinking of what I’m going to say when they stop talking. I’ve likely missed out on some very important discussions.

            I’ve never been a big fan of parties, because I don’t like to mingle. Mingling is way too much work. For one thing, I feel guilty for not remembering names. . -- “Hello, Mark!” -- Who the Sam Hill is this? All I can do is listen for a clue that will cause the name to surface. People can be so stingy with name clues.

            It matters not. I’m snapping out of name guilt. – “Hello, Mark!” – “Whoa, I don’t know you from a box of bottles. How ‘bout starting your next sentence with your name? – Too abrupt? Well, I’ll work on it.

            During conversations I much prefer talking very little. I ask the person about himself, hoping he’ll takeover the conversation. Unfortunately, some need some serious prodding. – “So how’s your Mom doing?” – “She died five years ago, Mark. You were at her funeral.” – “Right. So, how long have you had those shoes?” 

See how bad I am at mingling? No more. Starting this week I’ll be a free spirit at parties. – “So, Mac, John or Philip… whoever, tell me something. Let’s see? Start from your first date in high school. I’ll tell you when to stop.”  

For whatever reason, I sense that God gave me the responsibility for ending any silence that lasts more than two seconds. I can listen for up to five minutes to a completely ridiculous explanation of gastritis, but if there is a two-second pause I get terribly nervous.

If I’m in an elevator with a silent stranger, I feel it necessary to say something to disturb the quiet. I might say -- “I’m headed for the eighth floor. I like the number eight.”

That kind of behavior is behind me now. I realize that there is only one person who can make me nervous or angry or sad or embarrassed. Me. And me is snapping out of it. I am no longer responsible for gaps of silence. I don’t care if no one says anything for five seconds, I’m keeping my mouth shut. However, more than five seconds, and I’ll have to walk away to keep from having a complete meltdown. No one can snap out of a complete meltdown.

Keep in mind, I’m not recommending you try to snap out of it. That usually ends badly. And, trying to change people for the better is no longer a part of my job description. It’s a full-time job just trying to fix me. However, I’m hoping that it will now be a little less work. I’m not going to seize the day or smell the roses or reach for the stars. Those have been so over done. I’m snapping out of it. And you wanna know something? It feels better all ready. – I give it three days. – Next time.